1. GA-English
  2. News

Freight shipping prices rise: Rhine water level low, barge operators can only transport half-loads

Freight shipping prices rise : Rhine water level low, barge operators can only transport half-loads

Rhine water levels are low right now due to the lack of precipitation. The shallow waters mean cargo vessels are not able to carry full loads, which leads to increased costs for shipping.

The low water level of the Rhine is putting a strain on inland waterways. Roberto Spranzi, member of the board of the Federal Association of German Inland Navigation, told the German Press Agency in Duisburg that many barges cannot even carry half their usual cargo load at present.

This leads to considerable additional costs. At present, a so-called “push barge” with a normal capacity of 5,200 tons, can only transport 2,200 to 2,400 tons if it wants to navigate through the particularly low levels at Kaub near the Loreley Rock in Rhineland-Palatinate.

The hydrologist Jörg Uwe Belz from the Federal Institute of Hydrology explained: "On the Rhine waterway in Germany, there are (currently) some limitations on longer routes, many barges have to reduce their draught."

Spranzi said that in many cases customers are obliged to pay surcharges when the water level is low. This makes freight transport more expensive. Increasingly, barges are larger with increased capacities because of the economic advantages, but it also means they have more draught.

After several dry months, the Rhine water levels are low right now, especially in the Lower Rhine region. In Emmerich near the Dutch border, the level on Friday afternoon was 76 centimeters - the mean low water is 94 centimeters. In Duisburg-Ruhrort it was 236 centimeters, just below the mean low water.

(Orig. text: German Press Agency/ Translation: ck)